Co-working in Västerbotten : Exploring the potential of co-working places in sparsely populated areas in Northern Sweden
Abstract: Over the past decades, the concept of ‘co-working’ has spread rapidly across the globe – however, mainly in urban areas. By contrast, this study focusses on the potential of co-working places in sparsely populated inland municipalities in Västerbotten, a region in northern Sweden with uneven population patterns. Aiming to explore whether co-working places would have the potential to contribute to altering the negative population trends by increasingly attracting teleworkers and by decreasing the need for long-distance commuting, the study is based on three research questions, concerning: 1) the potential of co-working places as an alternative workplace from the perspective of large organisations; 2) the potential of co-working places as a strategy for local development from the perspective of sparse municipalities; and 3) the potential of co-working places to contribute to the various aspects of sustainability. Nine semi-structured interviews were carried out with respondents from municipalities, large organisations and existing co-working places. Although the literature supports the theoretical merits of co-working places in sparse areas, the interviews show that the potential of co-working places in practice heavily depends on the number of potential co-working users, local conditions and time-specific trends in the society, including the Covid-19 pandemic. Ultimately, this exploratory study demonstrates that co-working places in sparsely populated areas is an increasingly relevant research area that deserves further attention.
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